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Aces aiming to finish off short-handed Mercury

Sportsnaut
Jul 26, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA;  Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) and Las Vegas Aces guard Riquna Williams (2) high five against the Chicago Sky during the second half of the Commissioners Cup-Championships at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The top-seeded Las Vegas Aces don’t want to fool around.

They have a chance to eliminate the eighth-seeded Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night in Game 2 of the teams’ best-of-three WNBA playoff series in Las Vegas after taking a 79-63 win in Wednesday’s opener.

What’s more, they’re facing a short-handed opponent. Phoenix doesn’t have starting guards Diana Taurasi (quad strain) or Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons) for the series and might have lost Shey Peddy to a foot injury in the third quarter of Game 1.

Peddy was helped off the floor after crumpling to the court in a non-contact situation. Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said that Peddy would need further evaluation before the team could determine if she can play.

“For her to go down like that, it just breaks your heart,” Phoenix guard Sophie Cunningham said.

Keep in mind that the Mercury also haven’t had Brittney Griner all year since she was arrested in a Russian airport and that Tina Charles negotiated a “contract divorce” with the club in June. It’s was a minor miracle they made their 10th straight playoff appearance.

“I don’t know if anybody in this league has been dealt a tougher hand than Vanessa Nygaard, coaching-wise,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas has enjoyed a relatively smooth ride despite the loss of Dearica Hamby, who averages 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, to a knee injury last week. It got 22 points from Kelsey Plum in its Game 1 win, plus 17 from Chelsea Gray and 16 from Jackie Young.

That made up for an unexpected off-night by A’ja Wilson, who was just 2 of 11 from the field and finished with eight points, 11 under her average. But Wilson still made a key contribution with 12 rebounds.

“Hard-fought game for three quarters,” Hammon said. “They gave us a great shot.”

If Phoenix is able to even the series, it will host a deciding Game 3 on Tuesday night.

–Field Level Media